Interview: Yacht Club DJs
Words by Lauren Ziegler - Published on March 19, 2014
Yacht Club DJs, part Guy Chappell-Lawrence and part Gaz Harrison, have been ripping up dance floors across Australia and have built up reputation around their unique music mash-ups. Anyone that’s been to one of their gigs or heard one of their infamous mixtape knows that you just don’t know what to expect from these Ballarat boys. Just last year the duo were touring with Mumford & Sons on their Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers in the UK and US.
Roger Ma spoke with Guy Chappell-Lawrence on the verge of their Oddity No. 5 Tour and the release of their fifth mixtape.
You’ve been a duo since 2008, so you’ve been together for six years, which is a pretty long time how have things changed or stayed the same since forming?
I think when I started DJing, the Justice and head-banger sound was really popular. The deep house kind of thing no one was really into back then, elements of deep house are really popular now. And we used to joke about how we would occasionally try to play dubstep when we played club nights and it would absolutely clear a dance floor – that was three or four years ago.
So things have changed pretty drastically, the rise of trap music now which sort of a follow on from dubstep. When I started DJing there was only one tempo people would dance to in a club and now you can play a whole gambit of stuff, so in that way it has changed a fair bit. We try to move with what the crowd likes within what we like, we try to find a happy balance with the style we like to make – which is party music, and moving with the tides of electronic music, rock music, and what not.
You guys often play quite late into the night, how do you know what the crowd wants? If something isn’t working out for you, do you switch it out with something else or put on a banger or something?
I think we have a pretty good idea if we’re playing our own shows, people buying tickets to see us they know what they’re getting themselves into so we can kind of stick to what we do most of the time.
Last year we did a couple of months playing in clubs. When we were playing in America we were changing our sets every night, Gaz would bring his CDs and computer just so he had more options.
When we got back home last year at the end of October, the Melbourne sound was massive everywhere. We didn’t play that genre that because it wasn’t my cup of tea. Yeah, it was Melbourne sound from 9pm to when we were on, play for an hour and a half, and straight back to Melbourne sound. Almost everywhere we went, it became an ongoing joke.
The ‘Melbourne sound’, what’s that exactly?
You know like Will Sparks? It’s sort of a specific type of dance music, I guess it’s a continuation of Dutch house – has a similar bass line, it’s very easy to mix together, and dance to.
You mentioned that you’ve been touring around the America and the UK last year – how did that go?
It was kind of unexpected but good. We went to the UK last year with Mumford and Sons, did a bunch of shows with them. Our first gig in the UK we played to 900 people at an event called Propaganda, then the next day we played with Mumford and Sons at Olympic Park to 85,000 people there – that was our first two gigs in the UK. We did a bunch of shows with them, it was just amazing, and they were like ‘you should come with us on our American shows’, and we thought they were just being nice so we did that with them. And a couple months later we did our own tour. So we’ve seen a lot of America.
What was the highlight of the tour?
We played a football stadium in Oklahoma with Mumford. It was just a really fun day. We spent a weekend there and the crowd was just awesome.
What’s that process like for making a mashup?
When we go make a mixtape, an edit, or whatever, I drag a whole bunch of stuff in my Ableton session and workout parts of songs which I think are really cool, try to get them in the same key and then take it from there.
Sometimes I get an idea, I’m DJing and play two normal tracks over the top of each other and ‘oh they go really well’ and try to find the acapella of that. It happens either way, sometimes I get an idea, but more often then not it all falls into part and sticking it back together. If it works then it works, if it doesn’t move on.
What’s a song that always gets the people going?
Hmm that’s a tough one. Lately we’ve been playing Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis late in our sets. We started playing it while we were in America, I was like ‘Oh yeah Macklemore he’s doing pretty well, this song’s pretty cool’ and we gave it a go. And it’s like a new version of Shout by Otis Day, people really go vocal with it and go nuts to it.
Do you have a favourite music era?
We went though a big ’50s and ’60s, early rock ‘n’ roll, origin of garage, a few years ago. Now we’re really into disco, so anything from early 70s-80s. And just nostalgic stuff we were growing up with in the 90s, so Smashing Pumpkins, Rob Zombie.
10 minutes before starting a gig, what’s going on, what’s your mindset like?
I tend to be pretty relaxed, I don’t get that nervous before a show. Gaz can get pretty riled up, standing up a lot and walking around. I tend to sit down with my laptop and make sure everything’s ready to go.
After a gig finishes, what do you like to do?
Most of the time we stick around and drink beers with people.
You guys are recording your first ever original EP, how is that going?
It’s all done. It’s all mixed and mastered. It should be out in the next month, hopefully before the tour but maybe during it.
How many songs are on that?
There are four tracks on the EP, two with vocalists and two instrumentals.
What can we expect from it?
Over the last six years of us doing this we thought about doing an original EP so many times and we’ve made lots of tracks but nothings really grabbed us, but while were in America we started tinkering on our laptop while we were on the road and started showing stuff to people, who were like ‘oh this is really good you should release this’. So it came from there, and when we got home we were in the studio a fair bit and we were writing a lot and I think we’ve come up with four songs that work well in our set. We’ve made the samples rather than stolen them from other places.
Why did you think that this was the right time to purist original material?
We just thought that we had songs we were finally happy with after all that time. We didn’t want to release songs just for the hell of it, to get us on the radio or to make money. We just wanted to release something that we liked and that our fans like, that was the main goal.
Yacht Club DJs Oddity No 5 tour dates:
Friday April 11 Elsewhere Gold Coast QLD
Sat April 12 Oh Hello Brisbane QLD
Sunday April 13 Beach Hotel Byron Bay NSW
Thursday April 17 Karova Lounge Ballarat VIC
Friday April 18 Prince Bandroom Melb VIC
Thurs April 24 Oxford Art Factory Sydney NSW
Words by Roger Ma